Diwali Through Time: A Cultural History of India’s Most Popular Holiday

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is one of the most popular and widely celebrated holidays in India. Diwali commemorates the victory of good over evil and light over darkness and is traditionally celebrated with colorful decorations, fireworks, feasts, and offerings to the gods. 

This year, Diwali falls on October 19th, and preparations for the holiday are already underway in homes and temples across India. If you’re curious about the history and meaning of this important Indian holiday, read on for a brief overview of Diwali through time.

Diwali Through Time – An Overview of India’s Most Popular Holiday

PHOTO BY ucf.edu

Diwali, which is also known as the Festival of Lights, has existed for centuries and has historical roots in the Hindu religion. It celebrates Lord Rama’s return to his home after his 14-year exile, as well as the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.

This holiday has evolved through time and is now celebrated throughout India with family gatherings, fireworks displays, and festive lights. During this time, gift exchange takes place between friends and relatives, sweets are made to share among each other, and decorations are hung around homes.

For many people in India, it is a time of celebration that varies from region to region but remains special regardless of where it’s celebrated.

Diwali Celebrations Around the World Today

Taking place in October or November each year, the Hindu festival of Diwali is one of the most widely celebrated events in the world.

The triumph of light over darkness and good over evil is widely recognized and celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains across the globe. This cultural holiday has grown to transcend religion as people come together with fireworks, gifted sweets, and bright lights to celebrate life and family.

Having its roots in Indian culture, modern-day Diwali celebrations have embraced characteristics from other cultures around the world such as feigned war dances in some South Pacific Islands or performances of spiritual music in Great Britain.

No matter where you go now, there is always a way to experience the joyous festivals and happiness this time of year brings.

How to Celebrate Diwali Safely During COVID-19

Despite the pandemic, Diwali is still an excellent opportunity to connect with one’s community! There are plenty of ways to celebrate the holiday safely this year. Hosting a virtual get-together is the best way to participate in festivities with family and friends without fear of contracting or spreading the virus.

Offering food over video calls and exchanging video messages can give each member of the party a unique feeling of closeness. Also, getting outside (while properly wearing masks!) to enjoy colorful lights around your neighborhood can be a great way to stay safe while also spreading joy during this festive season!

Tips for Making Diwali Special Despite

Diwali is one of the most popular festivals celebrated in India and around the world. Despite the many social distancing restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still many ways to make this holiday special without putting friends, family, or community members at risk.

Here are some tips for celebrating Diwali safely:

1. Decorate your home! Adding festive decorations can help create a traditional atmosphere and get you into the holiday spirit. Try decorating with colorful strings of lights, paper lanterns, and other traditional Diwali decorations. You can also try making your own decorations from supplies you already have around the house like ribbons, beads, and fabric scraps.

2. Create a virtual celebration with friends and family! Set up an online video call so that everyone can take part in a group celebration from their own homes. Have each person prepare something special beforehand like a traditional Diwali dish or snack to share during the video call or even perform a fun Diwali-inspired dance together over video chat!

3. Practice gift-giving! As per tradition, Diwali is usually celebrated by exchanging gifts. Instead of physical gifts this year, why not give something meaningful instead? Write heartfelt letters to loved ones telling them why they’re important in your life or even surprise them with virtual gift cards that they can use online when shops reopen again after restrictions are lifted.

4. Participate in online activities! Many cultural organizations host online events during Diwali such as performances by professional dancers or music groups and educational lectures on Hindu mythology that focus on this festival’s significance. Take advantage of these opportunities to learn more about the culture behind this holiday while bringing everyone together virtually for a unique experience!

5. Enjoy fireworks responsibly! Enjoying fireworks is an integral part of celebrating Diwali but it’s important to do it safely by following all local government regulations regarding firework safety and disposal methods before purchasing any fireworks for personal use at home (or even better – leave it up to professionals who know how to handle them).

6. Donate what you can! Support those in need during this difficult time by donating money or supplies to charities operating locally or providing aid internationally such as food banks or shelters in areas affected by poverty or conflict. This is not only an integral part of Hinduism itself but also a wonderful way to spread joy during this time of uncertainty and difficulty for many people across different communities worldwide.

By taking these small steps towards making Diwali special despite the social distancing restrictions put in place due to COVID-19, we can continue celebrating this beautiful festival together while still keeping our families safe and happy throughout these challenging times!

Creative Ideas for Decorating Your Home This Diwali Season:

1. Diwali Lanterns – Diwali lanterns are a great way to add some festive cheer to your home during Diwali. Try making your own Diwali lanterns out of paper, fabric, or old jars and decorating them with words of joy and peace written in colored ink or glitter.

2. Rangoli Art – Create traditional Diwali designs such as mandalas, divine symbols, etc., in front of your home using colorful rangoli powder for passersby to admire! You could even try creating your own unique designs using Diwali-themed stencils.

3. Diya Decorations – Illuminate your living space by placing diyas (small clay lamps) around your home. Diyas is a Diwali symbol of hope and prosperity, and placing them in strategic places like windows, doorways, or pathways will create an inviting Diwali atmosphere for you and your guests.

4. Diwali Decorative Lights – Diwali is the festival of lights, so don’t forget to add some twinkling lights to really get you into the Diwali spirit! Hang strings of festive lights around your front porch or balcony and enjoy the beautiful glowing effect they have on your home decor.

5. Floral Garlands – Use artificial flowers or fresh flowers like marigolds to create colorful garlands for indoors and outdoors that can be hung around Diwali decorations or gifted to your loved ones as a Diwali gift.

By taking these simple steps, you can easily transform your home into a Diwali wonderland and enjoy the festivities with family and friends in the comfort of your own home!


Diwali is a joyous festival celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists in India and all over the world. With Diwali being slightly different this year due to social distancing restrictions put in place due to COVID-19, there are still many ways we can spread Diwali cheer from the comfort of our own homes!

Whether it’s decorating your home with Diwali lanterns or purchasing virtual gift cards for loved ones, Diwali still has plenty of opportunities available for us to celebrate together. Wishing you all a very happy Diwali!

May this Diwali be filled with light and joy! Happy Diwali everyone!

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